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What would you do?


med forum:
I haven't been on the boards in a while and lately have been having some relationship problems
with my boyfriend...I think that most of the time he doesn't want to talk out loud about what might be bothering him.....see, it was just a few weeks ago that he "observed" his one year anniversary of being pos and he's also involved in a career that really takes him away from a lot of things. Lately, its been a struggle in that we don't have time for each other.....he only has enough time to be involved in his career. I continue to try and be as supportive and understanding of his life situation, both healthwise and workwise but I feel that he doesn't have time for the one person who has stuck by him through many difficult situations that life throws at you. I try to exlplain to him that he needs to be able to set aside time for himself and for us, even though it is diffult much of the time. Everyone needs that time where they can break away from the
craziness of life and be able to ground themselves in activities, going to a movie, going to dinner or just going for a walk.

We've been going out for close to three years and some days I feel like life keeps throwing things in our direction and I try to smooth it out and keep my sanity while he gets bogged down by work and have no time for anything else. What else can I do? I feel like no one understand the situation I'm in or the situation that we're in. No one ever said that relationships were easy, but I feel like I was a very close and important person in his life and now I feel like I'm in the way. I love him very much.......

quote you: "I live in Chicago and feel like it's really difficult to find a group or support system for those
of us who have loved ones who are pos.....after searching for many months, I have been lucky
enough to find one....yes.....only one!"
Well, tell us, have you been going to a support group? 
I was in your situation ...sort of....and was lucky enough to find a support group for: "Lovers and Friends of People With AIDS". Long time ago.  The lessons learned there were and still are important to me today.
1. Most important: Individuals who find themselves in the role of caregiver or who have a partner who has a serious illness must make time for themselves.  This usually does NOT involve the person who is ill. Support groups provide a place where you can say ANYTHING, which includes FEARS that you cannot express to the partner.
2. Making demands and trying to change the person who you are with is usually counterproductive.  It takes two...and you need to be in counseling together.  saying things like: "honey why cant you pay more attention to me?" is a big no no. Asking him out on a "date" might work better.
3. Dont sweat the little stuff...which includes things like the car breaking down and the cat throwing up on your best slacks or the partner forgetting your birthday.
and etc
Wish you well.  If you love each other, things will work out, hopefully.

I have been where you are... I completely understand.

It is funny, but my husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. About a year after confirmed diagnosis we went through a similar experience. We had finally gotten settled into a reasonably comfortable life and he had a job he seemed to enjoy - but we stopped talking and spending time together. He was either at work (almost always) or made sure he was busy elsewhere. I was hurt and angry and frustrated - after all didn't he appreciate the sacrifices I was making for him??? Sadly, I have to report that we did separate for a while. Distance and time helped a lot. (Not what you want to hear, I know.)

Later, we were able to talk about what was going on for each of us. There were a few things happening...
1) We were keeping his status from everyone. We did not want our families and employers to know - and so it became that "elephant in the livingroom" no one was talking about.
2) He felt guilty and worried. He had the disease; I did not. He was worried about transmission, even though we were always careful. He loved (loves) me and could not bear the thought of infecting me - so he pulled away physically.
3) I resented him for pulling away. I was scared I was loosing him and I reacted by trying to hold on as tightly as possible. Of course, that had the opposite effect. The more I tried to force him to spend time with me, express his feelings, or convince me he was not going to leave, the worse the situation got.
4) I started to resent that he did not appreciate me (not really true). I didn't have to stay. I didn't have HIV. I did not realize this was a phase that I would enter (and sometimes still do) periodically and that it was my problem, and I had to get help to work through those feelings. He was going through his own stuff.

I did end up finding a support group for infected and affected. It helped a little. I met another woman in a similar situation and we were able to talk about our fears and frustrations. He chose not to get professional help. However, in time we were able to start talking about what was going on for us. He needed to work things out in his way, as did I. We have different coping mechanisms - I realized that when I started to think back about us pre-diagnosis. And I have to respect that still. He still needs his space and time to deal with the changes that HIV and life throw at us. I still need to talk it out. I come here as my local support group has disbanded. He at least tells me now he needs time and space and I give it to him.

You need to take care of yourself. You need to respect his feelings and your own. You do not have to stay. Leaving does not make you a bad person. Staying does not make you a good one. Relationships are difficult in the best of circumstances and we face problems other couples do not. You have the support of people here. I am always available to talk by phone or email. "PM" me and I will send you my contact information. I do not have all the answers by any means - but I have been dealing with some of these issues for over 20 years.

Be good to yourself. You and your BF are in my thoughts.



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